My Wonderful Wanda is a Swiss film about a caretaker and the strange relationship that forms between her eccentric patient and his equally odd family. Director and co-writer Bettina Oberli crafts a wonderfully fascinating story about a dysfunctional family that brings the tears and the laughs. Unfortunately, the film centers around a blank slate main character who only gives hints and nods towards her feelings and motivations. It’s not the actor’s fault, the titular character of Wanda (Agnieszka Grochowska) just doesn’t have as much depth as the characters surrounding her.
“Josef is a dying man who has more life in him than those around him are giving him credit for…”
The film mostly centers around Josef (André Jung), his wife Elsa (Marthe Keller), and their children Sophie (Birgit Minichmayr) and Gregi (Jacob Matschenz). Josef is a dying man who has more life in him than those around him are giving him credit for having. There are beautiful moments where Jung shows the frustration that must come with having a youthful personality and disposition but lacking the body required to live that youthfulness to its fullest. He is the highlight of the film for me, even when he says incredibly insensitive things. Still, you appreciate him because Josef does genuinely care for his family; it just feels like his family doesn’t care much for him. His chemistry with Grochowska’s Wanda isn’t as clearly defined as it needs to be. He clearly loves and is infatuated by her, but does she love him?
In some moments, it feels like she’s annoyed, and he’s just an inconvenience she’s not being paid well enough to deal with. Marth Keller’s Elsa character is truly the heart of the film. Her motivations are mostly pure, and she tries to be a loving partner to someone who greatly hurts her. Sophie is the snooty one of the bunch; her comments are viciously rude and ignorant, especially when it comes to Wanda’s Polish ethnicity. Despite her flaws, you find things about her you can relate to, and Minichmayr does great things with the part. Gregi is the timid younger sibling. He has a good heart, but sometimes he lacks the tact and timing to express his feelings adequately. His infatuation with Wanda is cute but a little creepy considering what transpires between Wanda and Josef.
"…a wonderfully fascinating story about a dysfunctional family..."